In 2014, ESLI commissioned an Immovable property restitution study to systematically examine whether, and to what extent, each country is meeting the restitution standards established in the Terezin Declaration and the Guidelines and Best Practices, approved by 43 of the Terezin Declaration governments in 2010.
The Study was launched at the European Parliament, at the heart of the European Union where 27 nations decided to promote justice, protect human rights and prevent atrocities from last century, during the international conference on restitution: Unfinished Justice: Restitution and Remembrance.
The Study documents legislation related to restitution and compensation of immovable (real) property confiscated or otherwise wrongly seized by the Nazis during the period 1933 to 1945.
The Study is the first and only of its kind and analyses restitution across three main categories:
• communal property
• private property
• heirless and/or unclaimed property
Prof. Michael J. Bazyler and Lee Crawford-Boyd led the project, which brought together the research efforts of over 40 pro bono attorneys from major global law firms, including White & Case, O’Melveny & Myers, Morgan Lewis, Fried Frank, and Brownstein Hyatt Farber & Schreck. These pro bono attorneys, under the guidance of Firm directors and associates, completed research reports addressing the status of restitution legislation in an assigned Terezin Declaration country. In addition, the reports provide a preliminary analysis of the country’s compliance with its Terezin Declaration commitments.
The project team analysed the reports prepared by the pro bono teams, supplemented them with their own research data, and finalised additional detailed questionnaires to be distributed to representatives of all forty-seven Terezin Declaration countries. These questionnaires enabled governments to confirm or amend the data already gathered by the research teams and complete any remaining gaps in information relating to restitution legislation and case law.
Once government questionnaires were returned, response data was reviewed and collated by the project directors and their team prior to publication in the database. This process ensured that complex multi-source information was processed accurately and impartially.
The Study is available in three versions: The first one is a 1200 page interactive PDF document that can be downloaded in full from this website; the second is an interactive map organised from which individual country reports can be downloaded; and the third is a hard-copy publication of the study through Oxford University Press, which we consider an enormous achievement confirming the high quality and standard of the study.
We sincerely hope it will continue to contribute to promoting ongoing discussion and progress on issues relating to the restitution of immovable property.